By Jonathn Ogwuche
All religious beliefs known to man are in agreement with the need for forgiveness. In fact, forgiveness is the bedrock of the two major religions; Christianity and Islam practiced in Nigeria. In the Christendom for instance, Christians are admonished to forgive the sins of others in order for God to forgive them their sins. Muslims are similarly encouraged to forgive people who have done wrong just as Allah will forgive people on the Day of Judgment for things which they have done.
Unarguably, religion plays a major role in the life of the people. To some it is their candle light; it gives them insight, wisdom and knowledge. Therefore, it is expected that the teachings of the religions should reflect in the lives of the people.
However, recent happenings in the country seem to suggest that many have not properly applied the dictates of these religions. Some advocates of hate and division aware of this seeming gap are taking advantage of the potency of social media to perpetrate their acts with less suspecting citizens cheering them up.
Just like every coin has two sides, social media has its pros and cons. It has engineered social change on one hand and and on the other hand served as a tool for destruction. With the coming of social media, when a person (ranging from nobody to celebrity) does something worth commending, the social media sees such persons celebrated. In the same vein, when another commits an unacceptable action (ranging from an ill-considered joke to an actual crime), and a mob of angry users converges hastily in an attempt to ruin that person’s life.
While it is right to encourage outstanding actions and condemn mediocre deeds, the intent and manner done matters. In recent years, the social media has been hijacked by those whose stock in trade is to seek the downfall of persons perceived to be excelling in their chosen endeavours.
In the spate of one month alone, the list has been endless. From Biodun Fatoyinbo, the founder of Common Wealth of Zion Assembly (COZA) who was accused of rape to Dr Festus Adebayo who was appointed as media Aide to the Senate President amongst many others and now the 41 years old Senator who was seen slapping a lady in a video that went viral.
The energy and vigor that has greeted the alleged act committed by the youngest Senator representing Adamawa State north, Elisha Abbo, has left some critical minds wondering the sincerity of those calling for his head. Agreed that the action of Senator Abbo is without equivocation condemnable, however, it reveals a problem that is much deeper than that singular act and we must not keep piling condemnation on the young Senator especially, even after expressing sobriety without being mindful of the personal challenges he grapples with and the factors that might have prompted his reaction. While it is imperative that we all rise against all forms of violence against women, we must not lose sight of the fact that the Senator has shown adequate remorse for his deeds and apologized publicly to the victim, his constituents, the Senate and indeed all Nigerians.
This is even so when checks done on the Senator reveals that he is a typical example of a detribalised and a religiously unbaised Christian known for his unconditional interactions with the entire Christian and Muslim Communities that constitute majority of his constituents. Also, Senator Abbo who is reputed to have raised so many young men and women from his hometown and State from grass to grace has found himself in this awkward position and hordes of people are calling for his head through the social media are legion.
Besides, Sen. Abbo has been in the forefront of several national advocacy such as youth inclusiveness in policy formulation and implementation, implementation of MDGs and the NEEDS strategies as well as peer health education within the UN especially UNICEF amongst others. These preoccupations thus suggest that the Senator has sufficiently shown interest in bettering the cause of humanity. Consequently, calling for his head is as good as throwing the bathwater away with the child.
Worse is the fact that the media has failed to do a thorough investigation on the character of Senator Elisha Abbo but has rather joined the frail of social media terrorists who only seek the fall of people. Recall that since PremiumTimes published the video, no media organization has done a thorough report to get all sides. I find this worrisome when I read reports seeking to crucify Senator Elisha Abbo as though nothing good can be found in him, even as none of these persons have come out to say he lacks the competence to be in the Senate.
Independent investigation into the matter has thrown up angles that suggest that although the Senator did something inappropriate, there are unseen hands bent on destroying the promising legislator. For instance, it is bad enough that the Senator assaulted a lady but alluding that the assaulted is a nursing mother whereas the lady in question does not have a child is, to say the least, an attempt to whip up emotions strong enough to consume the Senator. This is one of the issues that if the media organisations had done independent stories could have been revealed.
The Senate committee on its part was not fair to their colleague as they attempted to ridicule one of their own by inviting media to cover their investigative sitting of a matter that is before a court of competent jurisdiction. A cursory look at the video showing their sitting gives credence to this argument as the Senators spoke to Abbo as if he were less of a distinguished Senator to them. The Senators need to understand that Abbo was elected to represent a constituency just like any one of them and must be given all dues that his position attracts after all to err is human.
Senator Tinubu who was emphatic during the session should have realised that she lacks the moral uprightness to sit in judgement over issues of assault especially if she recall her saga with Senator Dino Melaye in the 8th Senate.
The Senate should go beyond the periphery and unearth the details of what transpired rather than taking side with those who are only interested in seeking the down fall of Senator Abbo. The Adamawa north Senatorial constituency has found their Senator worthy of their mandate even as no one has come out to say he is incompetent or a stooge to one politician or the other.
While Senator Abbo must hold true of his pledge to be of good conduct as he has been over the time, there is also need for him to remain focused in fostering the aspiration of his constituents in the Senate.
Ogwuche, a public affairs commentator writes from Abuja.